In this 4 part blog, I will explain all aspects of cornering, for all levels of riding. In this section, the penultimate section, I will explain counter steering. I have already covered vision and Planning and Speed and Braking, I recommend you read those first before carrying on. The final part of the edit, out tomorrow, I will discuss linking bends.
So most of you I hope have already heard of counter steering. If you haven’t, don’t worry, to some extent you’ll already be doing it, without being aware. You might hear bikers talk about counter steering as steering in the opposite direction to the corner or leaning off the bike, but none of these are right.
Counter steering helps us to corner more effectively. Have you ever gone into a corner and drifted over towards the white line? Or even gone over to the other side of the road? This can be because you’re carrying too much speed and target fixating on the bend, but it can also be a lack of input into the handlebars, or counter steering. This technique will transform your riding and make you feel a lot more confident when taking a bend.
The Easy Explanation
The easiest way to explain (and this is for learner and advanced riders), is to look at the bend that you are about to go into. Let’s say it’s a left hand bend. Take your left palm and push forward and down (diagonally towards the ground) on the handlebar, in the direction you’re travelling. So in this instance, it’s to the left. The bike will start to lean over to the left. If you want to go around a right hand bend, you’ll need to push, forward and down on the right handle bar. This will lean the bike to the right. I tend to call it ‘bar pressure’ when explaining to my students, it makes it easier to understand and visualise what needs to be done.
You’ll only need a small amount of pressure when doing this, so practice on quiet roads to begin with and remember to loosen the grip on your bars! We only want about a 20-30% grip, as anything more than this will encourage your elbows to lock up and steering will become very difficult.
More Experienced Riders
As a more experienced rider on a larger machine, I recommend a slightly more advanced method. This still includes putting pressure on the handlebar, forward and down in the direction you want to travel. However, it also includes using the other hand, to lift the handlebar upwards
and towards your body, to increase the lean angle on the bike. I teach this when I’m preparing students to undergo their Module One test on the Hazard Avoidance exercise. I also teach it at an advanced level.
When learners start their riding journey, there are so many different things to think about, they don’t have enough brain capacity to think about counter steering as well. Although at RMT Motorcycle Training, we teach counter steering from CBT onwards.
As we progress on to more powerful machines, it’s important we understand counter steering or bar pressure. It can be the difference between staying safe and ending up in a world of pain.
Remember this blog is to help support and guide you, but my recommendation is to ALWAYS undertake further training. It can be difficult to self critique what you’re doing. I’d also think twice about taking advice from anyone who isn’t a professional trainer. Unfortunately there’s a lot of poor or inappropriate advice out there.